For many, the fun-filled festive season is a period of excess – numerous parties, expensive presents, overeating and imbibing a little more than usual. So, if the thought of checking your post-Christmas bank balance makes you want to bury your head in the sand, you’re not the only Janu-worry ostrich.
Samantha Pillay, Director of Sales Operations for First Loyalty Plus says that for the majority of people, January always feels twice as long as any other month of the year. “With early salary payments in December, combined with Christmas spending, holidays, back-to-school stationery and new school uniforms to buy, January more often than not equals 31 days of stress and anxiety. Simply wishing the first month or two of the new year away is standard practice for most. However, January also provides some solid lessons that, if one is willing to learn from them, can be applied for life.”
Samantha shares these five lessons:
1. Patience: We live in a world of instant gratification – we want it all, and we want it NOW! But January forces us to be patient, to delay purchasing non-essential items because we can’t buy that for which we don’t have the money. Delayed gratification is a vital component of self-control, and if you’re able to deny instant pleasure in favour of reaping a long-term reward, it will go a long way to set you up for lifelong success.
2. Planning and prioritisation: The absence of a plan (or budget) to ensure that you don’t spend in excess of what you earn is more evident in January than at any other time of the year. If you failed to budget in December to avoid the January hangover, the first month of the year means you will be forced to re-look at your finances and budget accordingly to get through the month. So why not take it one step further and develop (and then stick to) a monthly budget for the year, always mindful of prioritising needs above wants? This is a lesson worth learning and if you only make one New Year’s resolution, let it be to create a budget for 2023 so that you can manage your finances and avoid the January blues in 2024.
3. Resourcefulness: January teaches us to be resourceful by forcing us to shop more cleverly, cook creative budget meals, reuse, recycle, and do whatever it takes to make our money go further. Imagine the possibilities if you employed this resourcefulness all year long, and not just for one month of the year. You could save enough for a bucket-list holiday or buy the car you’ve always dreamed of. In fact, something like a First Loyalty Plus membership is perfect for the resourceful, savvy consumer who wants to live the same lifestyle, for less.
4. Empathy: Having to make do with less than normal for a month or two and forego a few treats is a reminder of those who as a matter of course are forced to constantly live with less. It allows us to identify with and have more empathy for people who struggle daily just to survive. It also proves that you can live with less.
5. Humility: It is humbling to realise that if you have a roof over your head, clothes to wear, food in the fridge, and some (or most) of your bills paid, you’re better off than most people on the planet. So, while you may be uncomfortable having to tighten your belt at the start of the year, the realisation that you’re actually still doing okay should instil an attitude of gratitude and encourage you to use your resources wisely.
“Rather than dwelling on the notion that January is the worst month of the year, change your mindset and rather learn from the lessons that are the gifts that it delivers,” concludes Samantha.